Lettering and Memorials

Lettering is one of the harder skills of the sculpting disciplines to perfect. It is also one of the most rewarding. The skills required start with the work on paper to produce a design showing elegantly spaced and weighted letters and words. It also requires the use of the more delicate, razor sharp and therefore more fragile chisels. Impatience is likely to damage the work, the tools or the artist!

The quality of stone must be the highest as flaws and breaks cause distortions of the letter forms. Lettering would normally be cut from perfectly flat and polished stone. However it has been the organic nature of my work (combining the polished sculpted forms alongside the natural texture and shape of a stone) that has drawn people to commission me. Whilst perfectly happy working on machined shapes and surfaces I have made it a speciality of mine to cut letters on a riven surface. In my headstone work I have often been asked to produce pieces that have a natural shape and appearance. Carefully chosen they echo the traditional forms without looking man-made.

There are two new challenges when working with natural shapes and surfaces. The first is with the layout.  Within a square, rectangle or even a circle there is mathematical way of placing/centering the letters.

On a natural piece the placing is more instinctive and you must find the placement that ‘feels’ right. Second is that the uneven surface bends and distorts the outlines of the letters and you must compensate for this.

Even with apparently formal designs natural anomalies in the stone can play a welcome part in the design. The stone below, in memorial of an artist, was inspired by the artist’s palette. The circular hole making this otherwise traditional design highly contemporary. The purple slate of North Wales brought a rare colour to the palette.  The natural ‘inclusions’ seen as pale green blotches in middle/right of the lettering (which might normally have caused me to seek another stone) were welcomed by the family as ‘the paint on his palette’.

All the lettering seen above is of the sort described as V-Cut (look out for the article on cutting letters in the blog roll). This technique cuts the letters into the stone and produces the distinctive two faces; joined at the bottom in a V shaped incision into the stone. This produces a strong light and shade contrast between the two faces.

Seen below is an example of ‘Bass Relief’ lettering where the letter shape remains whilst the surrounding stone is removed. The panel below is one of 10 produced in conjunction with Ryan Morley of Bird and Bee for the Sheaf Valley River Walk. (More details of this in the ‘Commissions Page’.)

Sometimes it is required that the work be carried out in situ, which takes me to a great many places.

Lettering is usually carved with the stone upright by choice, so this doesn’t present to much problem. Although it is a lot easier working stood or seated than it is crouching near the ground.

So large or small

formal or unusual.

Please don’t hesitate to contact me to discuss your lettering requirements.

billdragonstone@hotmail.co.uk

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